Tag Archives: book arts

Inside The Artist’s Studio with Camille Riner

Some people aren’t sure what they want to do when they grew up but I knew it would be something to do with art. I was the kid that drew bunnies for everyone in elementary school, made costumes in middle school, and took an art class every semester in high school. When I went to college orientation, I visited the art department and felt right at home. After getting my undergraduate degree at the University of South Dakota and graduating with a Master of Fine Arts at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, I taught design and printmaking at Southwestern Michigan College. In 1998 my husband and I returned to South Dakota and started our own book publishing business. 

Camille Riner at her studio desk.

Camille Riner at her studio desk.

My name is Camille Riner and I work in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Welcome to my studio! I love my sunny space and the trees and granite outcroppings I see out my windows. In front of the windows is my computer desk where I spend a lot of time, but I also have two standing benches where I draw, assemble books, carve plates, and package orders. I have a Bunch etching press which, when not in use, is the perch for the home of my two budgies. In the corner, you will find my ukulele and several piles of books. It is a warm and comfortable space that I share with the Studio Birds, Cleo and Brindle.

The yard around Camille's Studio. We have been getting lots of snow this fall.

The yard around Camille’s Studio. We have been getting lots of snow this fall.

I enjoy working in my studio and the diverse jobs awaiting me every day. This can mean working on assembling books, creating a collage on my computer, filming a new YouTube video or any of the many odd jobs we all do every day. Occasionally I teach workshops to spread the excitement about making artist books with others. Through sales of my online patterns, I have discovered that people all over the world enjoy making artist books. 

DIY pattern for Wind and Snow petal fold ornament.

DIY coloring project pattern for “Wind and Snow” petal fold ornament.

Carving bench with new block waiting to be carved.

Bench with new block waiting to be carved.


“Sanctuary” altered accordion book.

I use allegory in my prints to investigate abstract themes based on our universal human experience. I strive to convey wonder, hope, overcoming adversity, and self-discovery. While some connect to the meaning of my pieces right away, it might not be initially obvious to others. For example, my book “Sanctuary,” in the Small Works show, uses images of thorny plants and cactus to depict the struggle and cruelty sometimes found in our world. Throughout my art, I use the rabbit to express vulnerability, the bird as a connection to nature, and the terra-cotta-colored figures as our strongest selves. I also repeatedly use the moon and stars to represent hope: hope for the moment and hope in the future. 


“Hope Garden” limited edition, altered tunnel book.


“Take Courage” Turkish map fold book.


“Sky of Blue, Sea of Green” altered accordion book.

I am excited to have been selected to show my piece, “Sanctuary” in the Small Works exhibition and grateful to have the opportunity to share my work on the Main Street Arts blog. I hope you’ll check out my holiday books and DIY holiday book ornament patterns in my Etsy Shop. Thank you! 

"Community" Hungarian map fold book, hanging ornament.

“Community” Hungarian map fold book, hanging ornament.

To contact me or see more of my artist books and tutorials: 

Website: camilleriner.com
Pinterest: camille riner artist books
Instagram: @camriner
Youtube: How to Make Artist Books 

Camille Riner is one of 112 artists included in the 6th annual Small Works exhibition at Main Street Arts, a national juried exhibition of work 12 inches or less. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s online shop. Small Works runs through January 3, 2020.

Meet the Artist in Residence: Matt Simon

Matt Simon, artist in residence at Main Street Arts, during the month of September 2018, is working in one of our two studio spaces on our second floor. We asked Matt some questions about their work and studio practice:

Matt Simon

Matt Simon

Q: Tell us about your background.
I’m from Denver, Colorado, and lived in various neighborhoods around the city growing up. I didn’t really make much art in grade school (I had two art classes during those twelve years), and ended up getting into art pretty much on accident — I actually applied to a bunch of engineering schools, but ended up choosing Oberlin for financial reasons.

Still, I entered college with the intent of majoring in physics. I sat next to the painting professor at a first-year orientation event, and she encouraged me to take a class with her since I’d always had a vague interest in making more art but hadn’t really acted on it. I did so my second semester, and during a class field trip to the Cleveland Museum of Art first saw the painting Lot’s Wife by Anselm Kiefer, and was enamored with its scale and textural aptitude. But during another trip to the museum with some friends during commencement week at the end of the year, the painting’s emotional weight hit me. I had to figure out how Kiefer was able to provoke such a strong reaction through an image, and I was hooked.

Lot's Wife - Anselm Kiefer

“Lot’s Wife” by Anselm Kiefer

Q: How would you describe your work?
I think the best descriptor of my work is tactile — I love creating textures that make you want to touch them, and have slowly figured out various material processes that result in ones I’ve integrated into many of my pieces. My favorite one is probably a mixture of acrylic, sand, clay, and iron oxide, which dries thick and claylike, but much more sturdy due to the acrylic and sand; this can be seen most plainly in my book, Weathering.

how the stars did fall

how the stars did fall

My longest-running subject material is the mythology of the American West, which has a long and complex history I’m still working to understand more completely. I feel a deep affinity for the landscape of that region, especially in Colorado and New Mexico. But at the same time, that affinity is enabled by the genocide and displacement of the indigenous peoples who lived there. I draw on that tension as inspiration for my work.

the child the father

the child the father

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
Most of my work begins textually, often from written sources on the West and the period of westward expansion. I find imagery or stories in these which I draw from to create preliminary ideas for pieces. A couple of my favorite textual sources for this kind of working are Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown and Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian.

Once I have that initial idea, I’ll try to figure out which medium best suits the idea, whether it be one of my usual assortment of book, painting, sculpture, or print, or some combination of those. I’ll occasionally make a more formal sketch of something, like on a small canvas before moving to a large one, but often I’d rather just jump in with the idea and follow where it takes me as I work the image over and over. I find my choice of mediums fairly forgiving since I can usually just add more material over the last layer if I want to change something, which helps this approach.

Weathering (page 2)

Weathering (page 2)

Q: Do you collect anything?
I like to collect natural materials, especially rocks and plants, and some of my pieces even end up incorporating them. My favorites are the ones I have that remind me of Colorado and New Mexico.

Q: Who is your favorite artist and why?
I have a hard time picking favorites, so I’d say there’s a three way tie: I’ve already talked about Anselm Kiefer, but I also love the work of Doris Salcedo, whose sculptures always have a level of detail that seems completely impossible, and Kathe Kollwitz — I don’t know of anyone who can create more depth in black space. I’d be happy to be one-tenth as good at that.

Kindersterben - Kathe Kollwitz (My copy)

“Kindersterben” by Kathe Kollwitz

Q: What type of music do you listen to? How does music affect your artwork?
I mostly listen to things in the vicinity of indie, folk, and bluegrass, with some hip-hop/rap in there as well. I often end up playing music that feels like it suits the piece I’m working on, so I sometimes will listen to an album or even a single song on repeat if I’m really focusing in on that correlation.

Q: What are your goals for this residency? Tell us about your current projects.
I love making large-scale works, but unfortunately studio space where I live, in Seattle, is expensive, prohibitively so for a space big enough to do works of that size. So I’m planning on taking full advantage of the space I’ll have for the month and working on some good-sized pieces. I’m going to try making a book at least the same size as my largest so far (2×3’), or maybe even bigger!

Weathering (page 5)

Weathering (page 5)

Q: What’s next for you?
I plan on starting to apply for MFA programs in the next year or two. It’s a little intimidating how many incredibly skilled artists are competing for admission (especially for the well-funded ones), so I want to get to a place where I feel more confident in my portfolio first.

Q: Where else can we find you?
You can visit my website, and I recently succumb to making an art-specific Instagram, which you can find at @mattsimonart.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with KS Lack

I started working with letterpress almost eight years ago, when I was looking for a way to print a mixed-media piece for a gallery in Brooklyn. I fell in love with the medium:  the richness of the inks, the juxtaposition of typography and imagery, how different paper types interact with ink and pressure—the list goes on. There are so many ways to create something unique, even if you are making multiples.

I also write poetry and both facets of my work have a profound influence on one another. There is poetry in presswork. Nothing makes you understand the weight of words like laying them out by hand.

Laying out type at the London Centre for Book Arts

Laying out type at the London Centre for Book Arts

Squall and Sunset, the two pieces featured in the Land and Sea exhibition, were printed at the London Centre for Book Arts. The prints were created on a Stephenson Blake press, a manufacturer that is common in the UK but rare in the US. For a pressure print, the ink is applied to a base instead of onto the rollers. The paper is then rolled over the ink, and the weight of the press is what makes the print. The cylinder on this Stevie B is very heavy, which makes for great pressure. As for inks, the LCBA has a wonderful collection of vintage, oil-based inks that were great fun to play with.

Some of the vintage orange inks at the LCBA

Some of the vintage orange inks at the LCBA

Printers love this Stevie B model because it has a very wide bed. This let me print on 22-inch squares (I used Redeem 130gsm, a 100% recycled paper), which are quite large for a single letterpress page. I printed each piece four times; the paper became so supersaturated with ink that it took over a week to dry.

Prints drying on the racks

Prints drying on the racks

Finished prints

Finished prints

Then I took the plunge and cut each sheet into four strips.

Cut down to size

Cut down to size

While living in the UK, I was particularly struck by the vitality of the countryside. Everything seemed so lush—the sea off Cornwall, fields of grass and hay with poppies growing by the side of the road, summer sunsets and rainy days—it was all on my mind as I mixed and applied the ink.

The individual strips were getting overwhelmed when mounted with traditional matboard. I decided to use acrylic for the front and back, allowing the vibrancy of the inks to stand out. I also like how the colors seem to float within the frame when hung on a wall. 

RBR  for R&T

RBR for R&T

Green Flash

Green Flash

As a person with a long-term disability, I find there is a lot of synergy between my art and how I try to live my life. Working on a press could be all about its limitations. Instead, I find that the structure inherent in presswork grants me greater freedom by giving me something to lean on. I may not always be able to hold a pen, but I can create something beautiful by working within the constraints of the press in order to transcend them.

You can find out more about my work at my website: www.zitternpress.com.

KS Lack is one of 28 artists featured in “Land & Sea”, a national juried exhibition of landscapes and seascapes juried by Deirdre Aureden, director of programs and special projects at the Schweinfurth Art Center in Auburn, NY. The exhibition runs through June 29, 2018.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Megan Armstrong

Megan’s artwork is on view in our juried exhibition “Small Works 2016”. Her work is available for purchase in our Online Gallery Shop:

Artist Statement:
A line is a critical tool for communication – whether compositionally visual or textual, a line connected to another line creates a navigational thread to follow – this thread can be woven in and out as a form of coded language – the duplicity of a line is directly linked to the formation and understanding of words – whether drawn or written, a line can develop into structures, systems, labels, and powerful (perhaps dangerous) associations – associations spur emotional, factual, and fallible interpretations and translations – lines act as evidence of human thought – definitions, synonyms, organizations – lines slide back and forth to create new relationships, pairings, combinations, composites, connections – the limitlessness of the line is linked with it’s limitations – through repetitive, compulsive exploration and manipulation of lines I investigate notions of normalcy by examining the narrative lines between fiction and reality.

Through practical and emotional research of a specific system – mental illness and the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Version 5 (DSM-V) – I create artwork that translates the coded language within the system, as well as the individual experiences that are left out of the clinical translation of human behavior. When a system and it’s coding logic is laboriously translated into didactic lines that weave in and out, attempting individuality, but ultimately creating controlled chaos, the complexity and ambiguity of a convoluted system remains.  

Work in Progress

Megan Armstrong in her studio drawing lines for a work in progress.

For the past three years my work has focused on the exploration of lines, as a form of communication, translation, and investigation of systems and mark-making. While the width and style of the line remains consistent in each drawing, it is important that every endeavor is a challenge, whether in content or form.

Artist Studio

Megan Armstrong’s home studio.

This past summer I moved to Rochester, NY, and set up a temporary artist studio in my home. The second I step into the house I am reminded of the art I have made in the past, current pieces, and the type of work I would like to attempt in the future.

Nomenclature, 2016, Ink and graphite drawing on paper, 36"H x 42"W

Nomenclature, 2016, Ink and graphite drawing on paper, 36″H x 42″W

Hanging above my makeshift drawing table is Nomenclature, a drawing I started at the Byrdcliffe Artist Residency in Woodstock, New York in 2015, and completed in 2016. The drawing is created by individual ink lines woven together. The background was laboriously hand-drawn, erased, and re-worked in graphite.

A Reductionistic Anachronism, 2016, Ink drawings on paper, Eighteen individual 12"H x 12"W drawings

A Reductionistic Anachronism, 2016, Ink drawings on paper, Eighteen individual 12″H x 12″W drawings

Resting on the drawing table is a work in progress titled A Reductionistic Anachronism. This piece was started with the simple and necessary idea of individual drawings building and creating a larger drawing. I was in the process of moving and had packed up all of my larger works and tools, except for my micron pens. I began working on a 12″ x 12″ drawing with the intention that it would connect to another, and another, and another… In a grouping of 18 drawings as shown it measures a total of 36″H x 72″. This drawing will continue to grow indefinitely.

The Clear Virtue of Creating a Common Language (106), 2016, Ink drawing on paper, 12"H x 12"W

The Clear Virtue of Creating a Common Language (106), 2016, Ink drawing on paper, 12″H x 12″W

The drawing shown above was created for the Small Works 2016 Exhibit at Main Street Arts. I challenged myself to take content I had previously worked on in a large scale, to the restricted dimensions of 12″H x 12″W. The drawing created for Small Works 2016, which won the Director’s Choice Award, features 106 lines total, signifying the amount of mental disorders defined by the first version of the DSM. The piece is an iteration of a drawing I created for my MFA Thesis at San Francisco Institute of Art, title The Clear Virtue of Creating a Common Language for Communication (pictured below). The entire drawing includes 394 hand-drawn ink lines, depicting the number of current codes for diagnosing mental illness, as categorized by the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Version 5 (DSM-V). These pieces were created line by line, and each line is numbered, with a clear beginning and end. This means that you can follow one line in it’s entirety. In both drawings there seems to be a clear form, although abstract, when viewed from a distance. The closer you get to the drawings, the easier it is to see the distinctions between each line, the connections and interactions, as well as the varying paths traveled. Each line is completely unique and wholly individual, yet viewed on the same page and in the same space, they begin to seem the same and it is more difficult to clearly define them as separate.

The Clear Virtue of Creating a Common Language for Communication, 2016, Ink drawing on paper, 48"H x 48"W

The Clear Virtue of Creating a Common Language for Communication, 2016, Ink drawing on paper, 48″H x 48″W

Line Theory, 2015, ink drawings on paper, artist book, 7" x 8.5" x .5"

Line Theory, 2015, ink drawings on paper, artist book, 7″ x 8.5″ x .5″

Line Theory is a hand-drawn and hand-written artist book I created in collaboration with photographer Brian Dean, who beautifully hand-bound each book. Each page features a “chapter” and corresponding line drawing. The book holds 28 complete chapters (original poetry) and line drawings (the drawings grow from one line to twenty-eight lines). Line Theory is a limited edition of six, and each book in the edition features completely different drawings.

Stop by Main Street Arts to see Megan’s work in our current exhibition “Small Works 2016” (juried by Bleu Cease, Executive Director/Curator of RoCo; exhibition runs through January 6th). Megan’s work is available in our Online Gallery Shop: store.mainstreetartsgallery.com. Visit her website at http://www.meganarmstrongart.com and follow her on Instagram @meganarmstrongart.

Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by ceramic artist Renee LoPresti.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with KaKeART Collaborations

Born in Rochester NY and Prague Czechoslovakia the KaKeART partnership began in graduate school at the Rochester Institute of Technology, where Tatana Kellner and Ann Kalmbach met  in the printmaking studio as exiles from the painting department. After graduate school, they arrived in Rosendale to help form the Women’s Studio Workshop, a not for profit artists’ workspace in 1974.

Scene Around Rosendale Cover

Scene Around Rosendale , 1982

Being interested in making our art more accessible to the public, we began publishing artists’ books in 1979, beginning with Scene Around Rosendale , a series of postcards of historic, contemporary and generic pastoral images readily found in local shops.

Scene Around Rosendale 2011

Scene Around Rosendale ,2011

We re-visited this theme again in 2001 and 2010, being interested in how our town has changed, while maintaing it’s essential character, as a town that grew up around cement mining industry.

My 9 Migraine Cures

My 9 Migraine Cures, 1987

Our collaboration has been pretty consistent over the decades. The impetus can be anything, a personal experience My Nine Migraine Cures, chance encounter, an article read, or a word spoken.

Your Co-worker Could Be A Space Alien

Your Co-worker Could Be A Space Alien, 1985

Your Co-Worker Could be A Space Alien  was based on a tabloid article given to us by a friend.  Since then we have have worked together on 16 artists’ books and numerous installation projects.

Pistol Pistil cover

Pistol Pistil, 1997

Pistol Pistil 2

Pistol Pistil

Because Tatana immigrated to USA from Prague, some of the subtleties of language have fascinated her, which lead to Pistol/Pistil: Botanical Ballistics. We printed the book while being artists-in-residence at the University of Southern Maine. The students were encouraged to assist and observe our process of negotiating the linguistic terms, printing sequences, and color choices.

Domestic Policy, silkscreen on handmade paper 2005

Domestic Policy, silkscreen on handmade paper 2005

Collaboration is a fascinating, rewarding and sometimes frustrating process, but in the end you learn a lot about yourself and your collaborator.

Shoot 1

Shoot to Kill, 1997

Around the same time as Pistol/Pistil, the hotel in our neighborhood opened a police shooting range. We collected the abandoned targets and gathered them into a book Shoot to Kill, where each target is paired with a word. The entire text: DID YOU EVER WONDER WHY POLICE TARGETS ARE TORSOS? is subtitled SHOOT TO KILL.
Here we debated at length if to include the word black, in the end deciding not to, since one of the targets we found was not a silhouette, but a fully clothed figure.

Shoot to Kill

Shoot to Kill, installed on the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, August 2015

In the summer of 2015, in the context of ‘black lives matter’ movement, we installed the targets on a rail trail, as part of a public art festival.

The Golden Rule

The Golden Rule, 2015

Our latest collaboration was The Golden Rule, an installation and an artist’s book. Both of these are are meditations on the unending quest to fulfill the golden rule. We lettered the text from 13 different religions on the rail trail. As the trail was biked, ran or walked on, the text slowly disappeared. In the book, the reader is confronted with a blind embossing of the text in one of the original languages, followed by handwritten, slowly dissolving translation. Only after leafing through to the next page is one able to read the tenet. This is contrasted with newspaper clippings of petty crime and punishment.

Ann Kalmbach and Tatana Kellner collaborate as KaKeART to produce humorous and politically charged works ranging from postcards, artists’ books and public interventions. They are also co-founders of Women’s Studio Workshop.

Stop by Main Street Arts to see their artwork in our current exhibition, Ink and Paper (runs through Friday, March 25). Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by artist Nick Marshall.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Nick Marshall

Hi everyone, my name is Nick Marshall. My recent work, _e_scapes,  is included in Main Street Art’s exhibition “Ink and Paper” and this post will hopefully give you a little more insight to my practice.

_e_scapes started with a series of photographs I made in 2012-13. The images depict found snapshots of seaside vacations that are floating in a chromatic pool of color sampled from the air or water in the vernacular images via the eye dropper tool.





Shortly after making the photographs I started on a series of paintings that would eventually be exhibited under the same title and hang parallel to the image based works. I didn’t have a studio at the time so I was working out of the living room in my one bedroom apartment.

This would be a good time to mention what I do with the majority of my hours during the week. I’ve been working at the George Eastman Museum since 2010 and was promoted to manager of exhibitions and programs in 2013. In addition to overseeing the installation of the museums exhibitions, I work closely with the curators and creative director to design and layout the shows.  This usually includes us looking through swatch books and laughing at some of the absurdly named paint colors. A few of my personal favorites, “Grandma’s Sweater 787″ and “Applesauce Cake 316-5″.

But really what was of interest to me was the way that the paint manufactures were assigning names and numbers to colors that were intended to represent nature, specifically air and water.

After an exhibition of the work at the Hartnett Gallery in Rochester, Tate Shaw, the director of Visual Studies Workshop, invited me to do a month long residency at VSW with the goal of making a book that would include some of the sketches I’d made for the paintings. I had never made a book before but I’d always wanted to so I jumped at the opportunity. At first my progress was a little slow. It was very difficult for me to take the sketches off the wall and not think about them that way. Once I got them in somewhat of a book form though the sequencing became really exciting and everything started to come together.

VSW Project Space

VSW Project Space (March 2015)

VSW Project Space (March 2015)

VSW Project Space (March 2015)

I also used my time at the residency to think about another series I’d been working on of straight images that I knew were related to color and the landscape but couldn’t quite figure out how to tie everything together. Seeing them in the space with the paint swatches made everything click and I began incorporating the swatches. This work is still in progress but it was an added bonus to working in the studio and being able to see these intersections of my work that I hadn’t previously.

VSW Project Space (March 2015)

VSW Project Space (March 2015)

VSW Project Space (March 2015)

VSW Project Space (March 2015)

At the end of the residency I had produced my first draft of the book.  Subsequent drafts would not include the suitcase images and the final version of the book has a different cover that was designed by Travis Johansen and I am MUCH happier with it.

1st draft of _e_scapes book

1st draft of _e_scapes book

1st draft of _e_scapes book

1st draft of _e_scapes book

The book starts with Dawn’s Early Light C57-1 and progresses through the day, enduring a rainstorm with the sun eventually coming back out and fading into a Peaceful Night 590F-7.

page layout from "_e_scapes"

page layout from “_e_scapes”

page layout from "_e_scapes"

page layout from “_e_scapes”

page layout from "_e_scapes"

page layout from “_e_scapes”

page layout from "_e_scapes"

page layout from “_e_scapes”

I hope you can make it out to see Ink and Paper at Main Street Arts. There are a lot of really great books and I’m grateful to be a part of the exhibition.

View Nick’s artwork online at www.n-marshall.com. Stop by Main Street Arts to see his artwork in our current exhibition, Ink and Paper (runs through Friday, March 25). Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by book artist Amanda Chestnut.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Amanda Chestnut: Exploring Racial Identity Through Artist’s Books

Growing up out side of Binghamton, New York afforded me a bucolic, nonpareil childhood that combined a rigorous academic environment with a loving and supportive community. Largely sheltered from cultural strife, these seemingly unobtainable ideals are part of my motivation in asking difficult questions through my artwork.

Why do you have to make everything about race? installed at Visual Studies Workshop, Rochester, New York, January-February, 2015

Why do you have to make everything about race? installed at Visual Studies Workshop, Rochester, New York, January-February, 2015

Why can’t life be perfect? Where does this historic burden come from, and do we all carry it, even if only some of us actively choose to? In earning an MFA in visual studies from Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, New York, I developed the ability to ask these questions through my artwork. Experiences at VSW formed who I am as an artist today.

from The Frederick Douglass Archive Project, in collaboration with Rare Books and Special Collections at the University of Rochester, Rochester, NY, 2013

from The Frederick Douglass Archive Project, in collaboration with Rare Books and Special Collections at the University of Rochester, Rochester, NY, 2013

I have been making photographs for 20 years, and had entered VSW with the intension of continuing to do so. I left VSW making books, instillations, and writing poetry. At VSW I learned to look to artists like Elizabeth Tonnard and Claudia Rankine for inspiration, as they deftly walk the line between literature and image art while exploring political ideas. The late artist and exhibitions guru Rick Hock would often ask us, “Why photographs?” He emphasized the necessity of choosing an appropriate medium for all works. Rick’s influence encouraged me in my explorations of poetry, bookmaking, and alternative mediums (like hair).

Actress Mae Johnson and Athlete Jesse Owens, in the folder "African Americans/Civil Rights/Jesse Owens," Part of the Soibelman Collection of Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, New York, 2013

Actress Mae Johnson and Athlete Jesse Owens, in the folder “African Americans/Civil Rights/Jesse Owens,” Part of the Soibelman Collection of Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, New York, 2013

Through VSW I was able to speak with artist Carla Williams, who validated my efforts in finding my voice as an artist of color. Finding this voice and using it well is a continual thought for me; I find Langston Hughes’ essay The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain from 1926 to be an interesting exploration of what it is to be an artist of color in America.

Since graduating a year ago in 2015, I’ve had residency opportunities at the Center for Photography at Woodstock in Woodstock, New York, and at the Genesee Center for Arts and Education, where I am currently in residence in Printing and Book Arts.

Cyanotype Book 4 was made during my time at Woodstock. The materials were in large part a felicitous combination of available materials and a printer that was insistent on not working. While waiting for technology to cooperate, I explored the cyanotypes, eventually compiling them into four unique yet similar books. My hair has been a continuing theme in my work because it has been a continuing theme in my life, as it is for many women of color. I spent many years allowing myself to be defined by my hair. This single feature, more than any other part of my body, has been used by others to measure how black I am, how white I am, how smart I am, how much money I have, and how much I am worth as an individual. While I know this is a societal/cultural burden that I do not have to make my own, I can’t help but explore why hair means so much.

I often ask myself, “How do I quantify hurt?” I wonder if the struggles that my my parents faced as an interracial couple, the brutality faced by my father because of the color of his skin, and the atrocities that were committed upon his ancestors all reside in me somewhere.

Through my books I have learned that my personal history is a shared history. I’ve been approached by many people with statements of solidarity. While many of the experiences that drive my work are deeply personal and often private in nature, in sharing them I’ve learned I’m not alone. This gives me strength to continue carrying this historical burden.

View Amanda’s artwork online at www.amandachestnut.com. Upcoming shows and classes, current projects, and cat photos can be found on Instagram @mandanut.

Stop by Main Street Arts to see her artwork in our current exhibition, Ink and Paper (runs through Friday, March 25). Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by mixed media artist Peter Sowiski.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Candace Hicks


My studio is starting to look like a depot for packing materials. I have had a lot of work out lately, and it’s all come back at the same time. These boxes held wooden boxes with illusionistic rooms inside.

Cloud illusion 2

The rooms are constructed so that the cloud that floats back and forth appears to shrink and grow as it traverses the room.  These photos were taken without the fish-eye lens that smoothes the illusion.  A room that is smaller on one side with a sloped floor is known as an Ames room.

Cloud illusion

A miniature servo attached to a wheel pulls the cloud back and forth.

Inside Ames

With the fish-eye lens in place the room looks straight.  Many years ago I made comic strips starring a cloud.  Not just any cloud! This was a thought cloud, the sort that normally appears in comics.  In my comic strips the thought cloud was the character.  In my Ames room sculptures, the cloud has returned and paces like a bored prisoner.




Here I’m adding a separate battery pack for the lights.  Soon it will be time to repack them and ship them to the next exhibit.

View Candace’s artwork online at www.candacehicks.com. Stop by Main Street Arts to see her artwork in our current exhibition, Ink and Paper. The exhibition is up through Friday, March 25. Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by printmaker and book artist Jenna Rodriguez.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Jenna Rodriguez: An Educator, Papermaker, Printmaker, and Book Artist

I have been an artist and art educator for the past 8 years. The past year and half I was the Victor Hammer Fellow at Wells College Book Arts Center in Aurora, NY. The fellowship allowed me to teach fifty percent of the time and create my own body of work fifty percent of the time.

My work focuses on creating a sense of place within my current geographical location. I attempt to connect with the local community while exploring the public and private experience of social engagement to create work that inspires self-reflection, thoughts, and human connection. Through the use of language and social engagement in the public sphere, I explore everyday life, which opens a dialogue, allowing me to investigate different avenues to create narratives. I seek to give our private thoughts a voice, and our public thoughts an amplifier. By giving them a voice, it empowers their creators and allows us to stop, listen, enjoy and realize that everyone, all around us, drinks from the same cup of humanness. I considers myself a collector, observer, and artist.

Different Spaces  I Create In

When I lived in Chicago I collected authentic thoughts that occur while in commute on public transportation. I asked every stranger that sat next to me on the train to participate. I transformed the project in a letterpress Printed Accordion Book with a downloadable soundscape and a video installation. You can view both pieces here: Running Thoughts

Cayuga Nation: Now & Then is a three hole pamphlet stitch book structure and was offset printed. I printed this book during a residency I had at Columbia College Chicago in the Center for Book and Paper Arts.  Three weeks after I moved to the shores of Cayuga Lake, the local gas station was barricaded with trucks, police and members of the local Cayuga Tribe. This event inspired me to explore the long history of the Cayuga Nation and the events that lead to the recent conflict within the tribe itself. Depending on which cover you open first you receive a different story. One side of the book tells the “Now” story (current issues) and the other side tells the “Then” story (history) of the tribe. I created this two-sided artist book to showcase my own observations, experiences, and research on the Cayuga Nation.

My most recent project is called Still. It memorializes roadkill I encountered in the Finger Lakes of Upstate New York. Moving from Chicago, IL to Aurora, NY I was overwhelmed with my daily encounter of roadkill. The book transforms into a creative non-fiction narrative allowing me to connect with my environment. The deceased animals were found on my daily commute and treated with respect. The cover is handmade paper to resemble asphalt. The book proceeds with an image of crows around an animal to represent the flight of their soul. Following is a pullout map indicating where animals were found. Animals are letterpress printed in two colors with linoleum blocks and polymer plates. A veterinarian allowed me to take x-rays, which are printed on transparent paper with vertical text stating statistics about roadkill. Each animal has an obituary that states factual and humorous information with a pullout photograph showing the crime scene and the longitude and latitude. At the end of the project a private ceremony was held where the animals were buried on an island to pay respect and give thanks.

My Process for “Still”

Final Product

This project has turned into something much larger than only an artist book. I have created handmade paper using the animals, I created an animation about the animals, I created screen-prints of the animals and then did embroidery work on top of the  prints. All of this work will be in a solo exhibition called Still at The String Room Gallery at Wells College in Aurora, NY. If you you are in the area you should come for the opening in Mid April.

View Jenna’s artwork online at www.jennarodriguez.com. Stop by Main Street Arts to see Jenna’s artwork in our current exhibition, Ink and Paper. The exhibition is up through Friday, March 25. Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by book artist Alicia Taylor.

Inside The Artist’s Studio with Alicia Taylor

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One of the best ways I’ve found to focus my scattered mind is to allow myself to be completely captivated by the elements of the earth. I grew up in a house overlooking a large body of water and my fascination with water and the power that it can contain will never cease.

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I observe and investigate these natural forces as a way to process my own bodily experience in this very tangible world and think about ways to perhaps reach for those parts of it that are intangible.


My studio  practice feels most like an evolving  cartography and an attempt find pattern  in the mapping of my mind and it’s movement through the ideas that hold my attention. The first book I ever made was in 3rd grade, titled “Why Pine Trees Don’t Lose Their Leaves” (below) in which I wrote an imagined story about the Pine Tree being bravest and most determined of all the trees to grow tall enough to reach the great tree spirit in the sky. When he did, he was rewarded by getting to keep his needles all year long.

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I included this here because there’s a distinct connection between my childhood instincts and curiosities that my current work is diving deeper into, dealing with the desire to understand why things happen the way they do.

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My ongoing book project began a couple years ago, while I was living with and caring for my grandfather who was progressing quickly through the stages of dementia. During this time, I found a handwritten poem titled “The Search” in a plastic bag at a thrift store. I understood the poem to be a placeholder for what my grandfather would never again be able to articulate. I began writing in his voice, and collecting and scanning the thousands of images he’d taken during his lifetime as a way to understand him and the loss he was encountering daily.


I became increasingly interested in the way our minds work and spent a lot of time researching the physical/medical aspects of memory and memory loss. I found peace in the way everything in our bodies, down to the forms and lines of cells and nerves  could be mapped out, labeled, and understood in a scientific sense, like the image above. I made lots of drawings and paintings in reaction to this.

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I also took pictures everyday, following my interest in conveying time and change through the evidence of it in my environment.

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The manipulation of material, in the form of recycling paper and re-casting it as a new form brought a level of hope to the process for me. The above sculpture was made after turning my childhood sandbox into a big vat for pulling large handmade sheets of paper, only possible with the collaboration of my family members. These collaborative actions are what I understand now to be the thread that can link this project together.

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This book will likely be in the works for a couple more years, as it’s something I need time and space away from to  be able to navigate effectively. So there are a lot of other projects that dominate my time in the studio.

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Right now, it’s textile projects, collaborative paintings and returning to the study of water as it undulates between freezing and thawing in the many tributaries in the forest behind my house.


View Alicia’s artwork online at www.aliciahopetaylor.com. Stop by Main Street Arts to see Alicia’s artwork in our current exhibition, Ink and Paper. The exhibition is up through Friday, March 25. Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by Rochester printmaker and photographer Rebecca Lomuto.